I think a lot of life can be explained by using sailing as an anecdote.
You have the shore, that you left, even though it was comfortable, safe, and dry, so that you could pursue something even more beautiful, adventurous, and life worthy.
You have the sail, which carries you, your boat, your crew, and your supplies across the battering ocean. Even the harsh winds are good winds, because they push your boat further and faster.
Finally, you have the anchor. The anchor holds you safe, gives you refuge, and gives you something to return to, always.
Now, I've never been sailing. I own one zodiac raft that won't hold air, my uncle had a speed boat growing up, and one time I got stuck in an undertow current in high school with my buddies on a camping trip. Regardless, I think the adventure of sailing applies directly to the adventure of life as a whole. When Tom Hanks builds his makeshift boat and leaves the desert island to go home after four years of isolation, he's sailing. It's amazing what isolation will do to a man.
What's more amazing to me is that so many of us choose to stay in isolation, never leave the comfort of shore, never open our sails and never find our anchor.
I've always wondered why a large chunk of the western population was so obsessed with tropical island getaways. Myself included, I love the immense unpredictability of the South Pacific. I was on a layover from Sydney in Honolulu (I think) and I went to the beach for a couple hours. Despite the bustling city, the calm ocean paired with the passing storms clouds on the horizon 10 miles off shore fanned my flame for the mystery of sea.
I've always been a lover of the sea, a lover of the unknown, the solitude, the vast beauty it holds, and the mystery both above and below it.
Swallowing, churning, spitting, swirling.
I think that I love it so much because in the mystery, I see so much opportunity. We know so little of what happens below the surface out there. We know so little of what will become of us if we leave the shore... will we drown in the tumultuous waves? Maybe. But I argue that it is much more likely to just hit a calm in the sea, a broken sail, or lack of rations when we set sail, than it is to be swallowed by the sea completely.
This is life. How can we ever expect to do anything worthwhile if we never leave the shore because we're too scared? I think it happens because we don't think our sails are strong enough, and we don't believe in the strength of our anchor.
We don't think our sails are strong enough, and we don't believe in the strength of our anchor.
Here's how we fix that:
Our sails are simply our craft - whatever it is we do creatively that we love, that provides a service, that excites people, makes them cry, laugh, run, jump, whatever. When we believe in our craft, when we believe in what we do, we can believe too, in our sails. The only way this happens is through continually practicing your craft and never, ever slowing down.
Our anchor is simply what we refer back to when we lose our vision - it's what ground us, reminds us that we are safe, and that the storm will pass. Creatively, this translates to knowing why we even embarked on out craft in the first place. Why we picked up a camera or a paintbrush or a text book or a hammer or anything. Never forget what anchors you, never forget why you do what you do.
The next time you think about why you're afraid to leave the shore, take a look at your sail, and your anchor. If you need to fix them, fix them.... then go. If they're exactly what they need to be, then stop waiting, and launch the boat. And if they aren't perfect, but you know they will hold, stop holding yourself back.
There's an entire world of mystery, beauty, adventure, and success waiting for you just beyond the horizon.
Don't sit on the shore.
A PRO-PHOTOGRAPHER'S HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE:
I just launched my 2017 comprehensive Holiday Gift Guide: ALL of the gear I use as a professional photographer to create every image you see on this blog. In this image, I used the VEO tripod, a 5D camera, and a Sigma 35mm 1.4 Art lens. Find the guide by clicking the banner below:
I'm on a mission to show that the light will always pierce through the darkness.